Last time I promised you more details on Australian economist Steve Keen’s ideas for an American year of Jubilee to forgive the massive amount of private debt in our country, now close to three times the debt the government owes, and three times our annual Gross Domestic Product. Much of this debt should never have been created, because it was done to create debt which could be pooled and sold in small pieces to meet the ravenous greed of Wall Street brokers, who could sell such debt faster than the normal housing economy could produce it.
When you have housing demand so far exceeding supply because of such artificial circumstances, you obviously drive up the cost of housing, and then you compound the error by devising ways to approve persons who under normal circumstances would never be granted a mortgage.
According to Wikipedia, "in economic theory a moral hazard is a situation where a party will have a tendency to take risks because the costs that could incur will not be felt by the party taking the risk. In other words, it is a tendency to be more willing to take a risk, knowing that the potential costs and/or burdens of taking such risk will be borne, in whole or in part, by others. A moral hazard may occur where the actions of one party may change to the detriment of another after a financial transaction has taken place." The lenders expected to dispose of these loans for great profit immediately, and to hell with future considerations. In Keen’s view, the moral hazard clearly lay with the lenders rather than the borrowers; because they funded a disguised Ponzi scheme by inflating asset values without adding to society’s productivity.
“When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less."
Words to live by for those in government. For example, the word “surplus” is supposed to denote the result of consuming less than one receives. But that is not the meaning employed by our wise overlords. Or rather, they choose to cherry-pick what constitutes “receive” and “consume” so that the difference between those terms can be any value they desire. It’s time for some myth busting: there was no Clinton surplus. The entire thing is a fabrication, an accounting sleight of hand. “Hogwash!” you’re thinking! Certainly if this had been the case the conservatives pundits would have been all over this, right? Wrong. Their collective silence speaks volumes in testament to the fact that the same “math” used to show a surplus under Clinton also shows smaller deficits under their guys (see http://goo.gl/XojhD) (e.g. Bush Sr. claimed $1 trillion in deficits, but it was actually $1.5 trillion, likewise Clinton claimed a $62 billion surplus but actually had a $1.4 trillion deficit).
Since I’m getting the chance to write my column up before the awaited apocalypse on the twenty-first, I think that, since this may never actually make it to print, it might be the perfect time to air out all of my personal concerns and opinions about the world...
But I’m not.
If, by the grace of the Mayans, we are all still kicking around on good-old planet Earth next week, you’ll have a nice, silly story to read, and, if history has taught us anything, there will be crazy stories ripe for the picking next time I look for stuff to mock.
In New Delhi, (and, no, that’s not on Main Street), a suspect, identified only as “Rajesh,” headed out on a Sunday morning to get some drunk food and, as he was sitting down to have a little nosh, pulled out a gun and started blasting on his waiter.
True, we’ve all had occasion to want to punish a member of a wait staff, but we don’t – typically. Let’s tune in and see what riled Rajesh up.
The Times of India reports that “Monu,” the waiter, refused to eat Rajesh’s left over flatbread.
So Rajesh shot at Monu.
Being a good boy, I’ve never balked at the offer of food, and, after learning about the possible consequences of doing so, I don’t think I’ll break the habit.
And the next time you find yourself confronted with a waiter who just doesn’t see things your way, just repeat to yourself:
“Monu, Monu, Monu...”
Printed in the December 27, 2012 edition
Christmas is almost here. I find it fascinating when people ask me if I am ready for Christmas. I stumble, not quite knowing how to answer the question. I am assuming that they wonder if I have bought and wrapped all my presents, cooked all I intend to cook, have my cards sent and my house decorated.
This advent season, our church has been studying the book The Journey by Adam Hamilton. The book explores the journey that Mary and Joseph took on the way to Jesus’ birth. The book’s intent is to get us “ready” for the day we celebrate the birth of the Christ child.
Being “ready” for Christmas is a physical undertaking, a spiritual undertaking but also a psychological undertaking. There is so much expectation of what Christmas is supposed to be, that so many find themselves disappointed and a bit depressed on December 26 because for whatever reason their expectations were not realized.
So how do we get ready for Christmas so that we do not feel let down after it is all said and done? Here are a few tips that might be helpful.
Focus on the intended meaning of the holiday. Christmas is a celebration of the birth of Jesus. It is not our birthday. We give gifts as a representation of the gift that was given to us in the person of Jesus. Give gifts that honor him. There are many reputable organizations to which to contribute that allow you to give a gift in a person’s honor. Some of these include World Vision, Heifer International or Compassion International.
If two-and-a-half gallons of vodka can keep a 45-year-old elephant from freezing to death in Siberia, imagine what it could do you!
That’s right, Leonid Labo, elephant trainer for the Komsomolskaya Pravda circus, claims that he saved the lives of his two elephants by having them suck down 10 liters of vodka, which he first diluted in warm water.
It should be no surprise that a Russian carnie just happened to have almost three gallons of vodka on hand that he could spare on the poor creatures.
Alexander Davydov, emergency ministry spokesman, explained that the elephants were caught in a trailer during a fire near the city of Novosibirsk, and that Labo was forced to take the poor creatures out into the lovely weather.
(As I write this it is currently sunny in Novosibirsk and the high today is expected to get to -24 degrees Fahrenheit.)
Labo decided to freeze his assets – literally – to the Siberian landscape, but wasn’t heartless enough to let them kick off in pain.
Giving the giants enough to drink themselves stupid, Labo may have just wanted a little ignorant bliss for his oversized pets right before they headed off to that Sahara in the sky.
But the uniquely Russian tactic saved their hides (and ivories).
All in all, this isn’t the first time liquor has been lauded in the news as a way to hold off freezee death.
Supposedly, Charles Joughin managed to survive three hours chilling in the icy Atlantic after going down in the Atlantic with the Titanic because he was tanked out of his gourd before his feet hit the water.
Alcohol: anti-freeze for the body.
And anti-sad for the soul.
Printed in the December 20, 2012 edition
In the wake of the senseless shooting tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut we attempt to ease our collective pain by latching onto the only hope of extracting anything useful from this event, that is, to learn from what is now history so that it is never repeated. But what have we learned? Superficially this shooting is no different than any of the other mass killings: heavily armed killer walks into an area designated as a “gun free zone” and then proceeds to open fire on the unarmed. For example, it is a deliberately ignored fact (or rather an inconvenient truth) in the mainstream media that the Cinemark theater chain (where the infamous Dark Knight shootings took place in Aurora, Colorado) had a “gun-free” policy (http://goo.gl/yVHLt). Several of the victims were recent veterans who could have expeditiously put down the shooter had they been permitted to carry arms into the theater. It is highly improbable that the following is mere coincidence: with only one exception (Gabrielle Giffords shooting in 2011) every public shooting in the U.S. since 1950 in which there were at least three fatalities have occurred in gun-free areas (schools, malls, post offices, etc.) (http://goo.gl/7RVgJ). The killers may be sociopaths but they aren’t stupid. Such shootings do not occur at police stations or gun shows for a reason. If you are still unconvinced that gun-free zones simply inform evil-doers where they may proceed unmolested then I issue to you the following challenge: place a “this is a gun-free zone” sign on your front lawn. Still feel safe?